Based on the powerful 3.4GHz Intel Core i5-3570 processor, the Arbico Elite 3565XL is a PC that delivers ample performance for family use. Arbico has wisely opted for the standard version of the processor rather than the overclockable "K" version, thereby shaving a little off the overall price. As a discrete graphics card is included there would be little to gain from the faster built-in graphics of the "K" chip, and the small Xigmatek 400W power supply wouldn't really be suitable for overclocking anyway. The Arbico Elite 3565XL will be available from February 7 2013.
The graphics card included here is a factory-overclocked nVidia GeForce GTX 650 from KFA2. Although it's faster than the standard version of the GTX 650, it's still far from a 'fast' graphics card. If you're looking for a PC to play games, you'd be better served elsewhere. Application speed is what the Arbico Elite 3565XL is all about.
The Arbico Elite 3565XL system ships with a 23.6in AOC E2450SWDA monitor with offers a reasonably high specification, featuring the now-standard LED backlight and slim frame, but lacks the high-quality IPS panel tech found in displays offered at a similar price by some other PC makers.
A Logitech MK260 wireless keyboard and mouse combo is included with the Arbico Elite 3565XL, which is a very low-cost item but popular with many vendors at this price category and adequate for most users.
This PC's CiT Templar system case is pleasantly compact, and devoid of any aggressive-looking design details or transparent panels which might push it into gaming PC territory. However we did find the PC noisy in operation – which isn't great if you want to use it in the living room. We would also have preferred to see at least one of the PC's two USB 3.0 ports available at the front of the case rather than just a pair of USB 2.0 ports. And Wi-Fi isn't included as standard either.
Arbico Elite 3565XL: performance scores
PCMark 7 score: 5519
Sniper Elite V21: 25.9 / 6.4
AVP: 41 / 21.7
Power consumption: 54 / 121
Arbico Elite 3565XL: verdict
The Arbico Elite 3565XL is an inexpensive Intel PC that delivers very good overall performance. However, it's a little noisy in operation and lags behind in graphics performance making it less suitable for gaming. You also miss out on useful features such as a card reader, front-facing USB 3.0 ports and Wi-Fi connectivity.
How we test: General system performance
Core system performance is measured using PCMark 7, an industry-recognised test suite that uses 25 different workloads to measure areas such as storage, computation, image- and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. We understand that results from this benchmark are not absolute, with Intel driver issues in Windows 8 meaning video-transcoding tests can present sub-optimal results. Nevertheless, the results give an idea of the relative performance.
As well as the overall PCMark 7 result, typically a point score between 3,000 and 7,000 with current hardware, we have also published results garnered from some of the suite's sub-routines. These are designed to gauge performance in, for example, creativity and entertainment scenarios. Another test highlights the difference between storage technologies. This is an area that impacts perceived speed more than ever, now that even the slowest modern CPUs are more than fast enough for everyday PC duties. PC Mark also measures multimedia transcoding performance which can take advantage of GPU acceleration.
How we test: Gaming performance
As entertainment centres plugged into your TV, media PCs might be used to play games. Power and noise requirements usually prohibit the use of the best graphics cards, so we tested each PC running Stalker Call of Pripyat at 720p resolution with Medium quality settings and then at 1080p with Ultra quality settings. We also ran the Aliens vs Predator benchmark at 720p and 1080p resolutions, with both tests set to maximum quality.
How we test: Overclocking
We allow overclocked systems to be submitted only for our dedicated gaming PC reviews. All other components are run at stock speeds, with the exception of factory-overclocked graphics cards designed and sold at boosted speeds. We do, however, allow underclocking for the purposes of reducing power consumption.
How we test: Subjective assessment
We also pay close attention to the physical characteristics of each PC, its noise output and its build quality, delving inside the case and taking note of the quality of components used, cabling and airflow. Good-quality peripherals are also important, and where they are supplied we note the ergonomics of the keyboard and mouse. A media PC also needs a remote control and, preferably, a keyboard that can be operated from the sofa.
How we test: Support
Differences in warranty terms can impact our scoring. Long warranties are sought after, but we also look at the terms and conditions – specifically, whether faulty systems must be returned to the vendor at your own cost and if both parts and labour are included. Ensure the vendor offers full software support and preferably a home installation for more complex systems
How we test: Gaming performance
A typical family PC is likely to be used to play a game or two in its lifetime, but pricey graphics cards tend to be outside the budget of such systems.
However, you'll be able to enjoy most modern games when run at slightly lower resolutions and quality settings. Indeed, we used the Sniper Elite V2 and Alien Vs Predator to test the graphics capabilities of each PC. Sniper Elite is configured with Medium and then Ultra quality settings at 1080p resolution while Aliens Vs Predator is run first at 720p and then at 1080p resolutions with the highest quality settings selected both times. Both of these games have benchmark versions you can download yourself to try out on your own system to see how much improvement you're likely to get.